The old man was being dragged away like a goat by the four forestry officials. He struggled in their grips and could not understand why he should be treated like this just for felling trees on his own land. The same question kept on going through his mind

“If I cannot fell my own trees, whose trees should I fell then?”

Poor Adamou was being arrested for having felled down several trees on his farmlands and this was illegal. His main source of income was the sale of firewood but he did not know that his activity promoted the advancement of the Sahara desert which was a threat to the Republic of Niger. To help fight against the advancement of the desert, the government of Niger had asked people to mind the way they cut down trees but some people like Adamou did not understand why the government had to ask them to stop cutting down trees on their own farmlands. They needed these trees to use as firewood and some needed money and the only option they had was to fell trees and sell as firewood. Prices for kerosene and cooking gas were too high for more than ninety percent of the population. The government’s decision was good but it failed to provide an alternative resulting to people disrespecting the decision.

When Adamou reached the local police station, he was told that he was an enemy to nature. Before he could ask the question he had on his mind, one of the police officers gave him a solid slap on the left cheek while another officer took out pictures of the Sahara desert from a drawer and showed him. He did not understand how these pictures concerned him. As he looked through the pictures, he was lectured on the effects of his activity and the cloud in his head cleared as he was informed that if he goes on with what he was doing, the whole country was going to look like what he was on the pictures in some years to come.

Some days after this incident, Adamou was sentenced to fifteen month imprisonment and a 1.500 000 CFA francs fine (about 2400 Euros). This story spread like wild fire to neighbouring villages and many a firewood sellers abandoned their trade. Some of them fled from their villages while some simply decided to sell the stock they had and abandon the trade.

This incident served as a lesson to many people because threats from the government which they always neglected were now being materialised. This arrest alone delayed the advancement of the Sahara desert in its own little way.



Zinder, Niger

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